February 2016

Newsletter of ELR Software Pty Ltd

ABN 67 090 738 702
Web: http://www.elr.com.au
Email: news@elr.com.au
Follow: @ELRsoftware

ELR Software produces a range of computer programs designed by speech pathologists for speech, language & literacy intervention. Our programs may be used interactively within therapy sessions, to increase efficiency in service delivery, and to improve access to the Internet for people with special needs. We are also available as consultants to clinicians and research projects in the fields of literacy and accessibility issues associated with the Internet.

The aim of this newsletter is to inform you of developments and changes to our major products eLr (Extra Language Resources), Build-a-Sentence, Word Meanings, Rude Readers and EIA (Enhancing Internet Access). We welcome the opportunity for feedback and questions, and will be pleased to consider including reader contributions and announcements.

This Newsletter (and previous editions) as well as a "print-ready" PDF version of the current edition is available online at www.elr.com.au/news. An email version is also sent monthly to members of our mailing list (See Subscribing/Unsubscribing).

In this issue -

  1. New eLr Materials
  2. Looking back on 2015
  3. PhD Thesis completed!
  4. Other Independent Developers
  5. Free Downloads
  6. ELR 2016 Calendar

  1. New eLr Materials

    The February edition contains 18 new tasks which have been added to "Phonology - Skills and Early Sounds - Long vowel sounds". The aim of these tasks is to encourage accurate production of long vowel sounds in words with three sounds (consonant - vowel - consonant words). The new tasks use the MouthSounds model and target two of the five long vowel sounds - /ar/ as in park, and /ee/ as in beef.

    The MouthSounds model is designed to be used within interventions for people who have delays or impairments in use of sounds, that is, articulation or expressive phonology disorders. The default presentation of this model within these new tasks displays three faces on the screen depicting the three sounds in the word. The learner is encouraged to say each sound and blend to produce the target word. Following feedback from the clinician or support person about accuracy of production, the learner may then click a button to change the first sound in the word (eg "park, bark, dark"), or the last sound in the word (eg "card, cart, carve").

    While this model has been very useful for children with speech sound disorders, the recent addition of adult faces means that it may be useful when working with adults who have severe impairments in speech production (eg, people who have verbal dyspraxia following a stroke); or it may provide additional fun for children. For example, the child may be encouraged to "teach mum how to say this sound".

  2. Looking back on 2015

    With the start of the new year, a brief review of 2015 highlights some of the main developments in eLr which included the addition of new materials each month, and the commencement of our online training sessions.

    During 2015 about 520 new tasks were added to the eLr Directory in areas targeting reading and spelling, and use of speech sounds (expressive phonology), with a particular focus on accurate production of vowel sounds. This brings the total number of tasks in eLr to over 12,800.

    The eLr Directory covers a wide range of areas to support speech, language and literacy development. The major sections in The Directory are:

    1. Phonology - Skills and Early Sounds: targets accurate use of speech sounds (the early developing consonants /p, b, t, d m, n, ng, w, h/ and vowels), auditory discrimination, and phonological processes.
    2. Phonology - Later Sounds: targets accurate production of the later developing consonant sounds /k, g, f, v, s, z, sh, zh, ch, dge, y, l, r, th/, and blends with /s/, /l/ and /r/.
    3. Phonological Awareness: contains subsections targeting knowledge of letters and sounds, rhyme, identification of initial/final/medial sounds in words, blending and segmenting words.
    4. Reading and Spelling: provides materials to develop decoding (sounding out and blending to read words), development of sight words, knowledge of the letter-sound relationships of English, segmenting multi-syllabic words, and spelling of plurals, verb tense endings, homophones and homographs.
    5. Semantics: provides materials to develop vocabulary, word retrieval, categorisation, complex instructions, picture associations (which ones 'go together', which one doesn't belong) and word associations (synonyms, antonyms, object/user, part/whole).
    6. Sentence Processing: targets knowledge and use of pronouns, possessives and verb tense endings; and construction of single and multi-clause sentences.
    7. Using Language: contains materials to develop expressive language using tasks involving picture sequencing (familiar routines and narrative stories), detecting and explaining "what's wrong" in a picture, describing similarities and differences, processing "wh" questions (who, what doing, what, where), problem solving and inferencing.

    Most sections in the Directory contain a range of picture and word based activities organised according to level of difficulty. This means that most target areas contain material to support speech, language and literacy therapy for both adults and children. As eLr is now quite an extensive resource, the "User Guides" section is a useful way to get an overview of each of the seven major sections, and to view example activities.

    The second main focus during 2015 was the commencement of free online training sessions. Over the last couple of months we have done some preliminary trials which have been quite successful. During 2016 we will be offering regular online sessions. Some sessions will provide an overview of eLr while others will focus on specific subsections. We will also respond to requests for topics which are of particular interest to you.

    The ELR Software team thanks all of our subscribers who provide valuable feedback and offer ideas for further developments. During the 2015 Speech Pathology Australia conference in Canberra we caught up with many of you, and we look forward to seeing you again at the 2016 conference in Perth.

  3. PhD Thesis completed!

    Another huge achievement is that Toni Seiler, a speech pathologist in our small ELR team, has completed her PhD. For the past five years, as well as continuing her private practice and co-developing eLr materials, Toni has been doing her PhD as an external student through Curtin University in Perth. Here is the reference for a published paper describing the first stage of the thesis research, and the full thesis may be found at. www.elr.com.au/links/DDLMT.

    Seiler, T., Leito, S., and Blosfelds, M. (2013). The effectiveness of a computer-supported intervention targeting orthographic processing and phonological recoding for children with impaired word identification. Journal of Clinical Practice in Speech-Language Pathology, 15(1), 13-18.

    Thesis Title:

    "The Effectiveness of a Computer-Supported Intervention Targeting Phonological Recoding and Orthographic Processing for Children with Word Reading Impairment".

    Thesis Abstract:

    Evidence-based interventions targeting word reading skills in children with reading delay are of critical importance, as word reading predicts later academic achievement. Furthermore, most children with reading delay have impaired word reading with the primary deficit being the inability to use phoneme-grapheme relationships to decode words. While a large body of evidence has supported interventions targeting phonemic awareness combined with alphabet knowledge, recent research has revealed that phonological recoding and orthographic processing also provide unique and significant contributions to the development of word reading skills.

    The programme of research for this thesis responded to three issues identified in the literature. Firstly, few studies have investigated reading interventions for children with persistent reading impairment, that is, those children who do not demonstrate an adequate response to initial interventions. Second, it has been difficult to isolate the key element responsible for gains as most interventions contain a number of tasks. Third, in many studies, there is a range of responsiveness with about 25% of children not making significant gains. In response to these identified gaps in the literature, this research: (a) designed and developed a single component iPad-delivered intervention (the Decoding Intervention) specifically targeting phonological recoding and orthographic processing, (b) evaluated its effectiveness on the nonword reading and related literacy skills (word reading, text reading and comprehension, and spelling) of children with persistent reading impairment, and (c) examined the relationships between participant language, phonological, and cognitive profiles, and the child's response to intervention to identify factors that may contribute to the success of this newly developed reading intervention.

    Two studies, both with single subject research designs (SSRDs), were completed. The first study was conducted in three phases (Pre-test, Intervention, Post-test) to trial the intervention materials and procedures on three Year 2 children with reading impairment. Study 2 involved eight Year 2 children with reading impairment who were randomly assigned to one of two intervention regimes in a cross-over design, thus introducing three variations to the research design: a comparison intervention (a Language Intervention in which no reading materials were used), a delayed introduction of the Decoding Intervention, and an extended follow-up maintenance phase.

    The primary measure of effectiveness was nonword reading, assessed by researcher-developed nonword lists administered at the beginning of each of the baseline and Decoding Intervention sessions. Additional measures of effectiveness were pre- and post-intervention scores on standardised measures of nonword reading accuracy, word and nonword reading efficiency, text reading and comprehension, and a detailed examination of nonword spelling responses on researcher-developed nonword lists. The standardised assessments were administered pre-intervention by the researcher and post-intervention by a speech pathologist blind to the research aims. These data were analysed at the group level using a Generalised Linear Mixed Model, and at the individual participant level using analyses appropriate to SSRD. The results revealed that the intervention resulted in significant gains in nonword reading with large effect sizes for all participants. Though no significant gains were demonstrated on group analyses of word reading efficiency, text reading and comprehension, and spelling, the SSRD analyses showed clinically significant gains in some areas.

    It was concluded that this single component intervention targeting phonological recoding and orthographic processing may be an efficient and powerful adjunct to reading interventions, particularly for children with persistent reading impairment. Future studies aim to replicate the findings with larger numbers delivered by trained educational assistants.

  4. Other Independent Developers

    As an occasional feature of this Newsletter, we include simple, unpaid announcements of products developed by other small, independent developers, who, like ourselves, are practising clinicians who have put their ideas and experience into resource materials for general distribution. Links and brief information about these sites may be found at www.elr.com.au/links/developers.htm. To date we have listed -

    If you would like your materials listed on this page (at no charge), please contact us.

  5. Free Downloads

    ELR has a number of free or evaluation files available for downloading directly from our website. Please see www.elr.com.au/downloads.htm for specific details. For other supporting materials and documents available for free download, please see www.elr.com.au/support.htm.

  6. ELR 2016 Calendar

    ELR Software also offers regular, free eLr tutorials over the web. We can provide this sort of support to individuals, or to groups who would like to have an overview of eLr. Please see www.elr.com.au/events for details.

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